Ralph “R.J.” Shaw, who worked for the Cranmore Ski Patrol and Mountain Meisters, passed away on Jan. 12 at the age of 71.
I didn’t know R.J., but I read a story about his passing in The Conway Daily Sun. One doesn’t normally smile when reading obituaries; but, after reading R.J.’s I just had to smile.
Apparently, R.J. was quite the character – the hard (fun) livin’ ski bum-type of guy that seemed to populate the ski areas when I started skiing in the late ’60s. What caught my attention was a story about R.J.’s participation in a freestyle event right here in Waterville Valley.
Shaw and a friend “drove over to Waterville Valley in the early ’70s, the first time they had freestyle over there with such stars as Wayne Wong when the sport was in its infancy.
“It was the first one they held, so he and I drove over and signed up,” said Styffe. “We were doing the mogul runs. R.J. went first. There was a flat area in front of me [on the course], and I couldn’t see him anymore, but all I could hear was the crowd going crazy. I said to myself, ‘Well, I better put on a good show here because he really has everyone going good.’
“So,” said Styffe, “I get to the bottom and I had a pretty good run, and I was talking with him and I said, ‘You must’ve had a helluva run, because I could hear everyone cheer,’ and he said, ‘Eric, I fell all the way to the bottom, and the crowd loved it.’ And that’s the truth.”
R.J. Shaw sounds like the type of guy I would have enjoyed knowing.